Baylor Among Three Campuses Selected for 21st Century Project

  • News Photo 4656
    Brooks Residential College
  • News Photo 4657
    Brooks Residential College
Feb. 5, 2009

- University seeks to engage campus in planning 'residence hall of the future' -

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Baylor University has been chosen as one of only three higher education institutions to take part in an innovative national effort to plan a prototype residence hall of the 21st century.

Baylor, along with Indiana University and Colorado College, will serve as a host site for the multi-phase, multi-year 21st Century Project of the Association of College and University Housing Officers - International (ACUHO-I).

The 21st Century Project focuses on ground-breaking approaches in the design of unique, functional and technologically advanced living experiences that play a vital role in attracting and retaining students. The project initially began in 2006 with a summit meeting of 100 college housing and student affairs professionals, who met to envision the residence hall of the coming decades. Two subsequent design showcase events were held in 2007 and 2008.

During the spring semester, Baylor's Campus Living and Learning (CLL) will begin its own campus-wide planning process, modeled after the original summit.

The process will bring together housing personnel, administrators, faculty, facilities staff, finance officers, students and others to analyze residence hall needs and requirements, as well as ways to build community, instill flexibility, utilize technology and promote sustainability. (To participate, Rishi Sriram, assistant dean for student learning and engagement, at Rishi_Sriram@baylor.edu.)

"Baylor has been on a 10-year journey to reorganize our residential programs and facilities for optimal student learning," said Dr. Frank Shushok, dean for student learning and engagement at Baylor. "The residential campus has been a major tool for strengthening an institutional community of learners and has depended upon forward thinking, progressive ideas and high levels of collaboration among faculty, staff, students, architects, contractors and many other partners."

To further the educational mission of ACUHO-I, the three campuses will report their progress throughout the project. Once complete, the projects also will be made available for studies and research by other professionals.

"These institutions and their housing departments must be commended for their dedication to providing innovative and forward-thinking housing for their students," said Michael Coakley, chair of the 21st Century Project and associate vice president and executive director of university housing at Arizona State University.

In 1970, Baylor had an enrollment of approximately 7,000 students with rooms for half of all undergraduates. However, by 1995, undergraduate enrollment surged to more than 12,000, while residential spaces on campus did not increase.

"This meant that first-year students received priority in housing assignments; upper-division students had to live elsewhere," Shushok said. "In this paradigm, student affairs professionals and faculty worked in separate worlds. Residence halls were not educational tools where faculty, staff and students congregated to discuss college life; instead 'dorms' were facilities that gave students a place to rest a tired body."

In 2001, Baylor approved a new 10-year vision for the university called Baylor 2012 that included creating a "truly residential campus." The Office of Residence Life was renamed Campus Living and Learning, which symbolized the unit's intention to transition Baylor housing from "sleep-and-eat dorms" to "live-and-learn residence halls."

In 2004, Baylor opened North Village, the first new residential facility built on the Baylor campus in nearly 40 years. The North Village housed the Engineering and Computer Science Living-Learning Center - Baylor's first living-learning community - and provided a home to the university's first faculty-in-residence, a distinguished professor of engineering.

Just three years after the completion of North Village, Baylor opened a second residential community, Brooks Village, which included the university's first residential college. North Village and Brooks Village increased the percentage of undergraduates living on campus from 30 to 40 percent, moving closer to the 2012 goal of 50 percent of students living on campus.

Baylor's residential communities include six classrooms and 20 faculty member offices. More than 1,400 students are actively involved in nine living-learning communities, and nine faculty-in-residence - who also call campus home - help facilitate academic engagement in the residential communities.

Since that time, universities such as MIT, SMU, Arkansas and the University of Texas at Arlington have sent site teams to Baylor to tour the university's residential facilities and learn more about living-learning communities.

More details about the project can be found at www.21stCenturyProject.com and www.acuho-i.org. For more information, contact Shushok at (254) 710-6957 or Frank_Shushok@baylor.edu.

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